Friday night in Barcelona. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about The Loft -- aside from the fact that it's housed in an old warehouse, which is always cool and nightclubby, even when it's clear that hundreds of thousands of euros have been spent to maintain the working-class illusion of the place -- is that it's air-conditioned. Barcelona is swelteringly, painfully, mind-numbingly, cliche-inducingly hot this year, even the locals are saying it. And it's only June. But The Loft is air-conditioned, or something like it -- perhaps it's just the residual effect of the dry ice machines -- so that even at 3 a.m. it's vastly preferable to the sticky world outside.

Strangely, however, even at 3 a.m. on a Friday night, the club is essentially empty. Now, I learned the hard way that people here like to go out late -- showing up at midnight has about as much cachet as taking your date to the early bird supper -- but by 4 a.m. it's not much better. Is it the bill? We've got one of the Closer Musik DJs and Omar (my housemate) and Mousseup; Omar, at least, is one of Barcelona's top DJs, and Closer Musik should draw the Teutonophile crowd (although, granted, the promoters flubbed up in not listing Kompakt on the flyer). Closer Musik guy's room is nearly empty, and it's not surprising -- he plays a clunky, uncouth set that doesn't accomplish much in the groove department. The main floor is techno, techno, techno, though I'm happy when Omar gets his three song rotations in (it's an extended tag-team session, or, as they say here, ping-pong), as he brings a bit more subtlety to the proceedings. (And as every rockcrit knows, subtlely is always good.) No, but really -- so much of this is so thuddingly obvious, I can't see why even the people who are clearly rolling their faces off can find something to move them. No funk, no swing, no nuance, not even any force -- just boom chikka boom chikka boom chikka and then a bit of filtering boom boom boom chikka chikka chikka chikka almost literally ad nauseum.

4:30 a.m. and there are a few more people trickling in now; the club strangely seems to be discouraging the rolling of joints, even though the storklike pose with one hand extended, cupping a ball of hash while the other softens it with a lighter, seems to be the national pose of Spain, so ubiquitous you hardly see it any more.

5 a.m. and people are dancing, but only with the chemically-addled energy you expect to see at 5 a.m. And I wonder: have the Spanish always been such night owls? And if so: what on earth did they do before there were drugs?


Don't hate me because I'm wordy: finally, after a three week absence, I've returned with a long, long, long (and did I mention long?) account of Montreal's MUTEK festival for my supposed-to-be-weekly column, Needle Drops. Sonar review coming in one week. Meanwhile, watch this space for facile cultural commentary and pithy observations about women's fashions in tropical climes. All hail the tube top!

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